I have always been a supporter of fitness and general healthy living in kids and adults. My goal for my children is not for them to be elite sports people, (although if that is what needed to be pursued then I would support them in it) but rather to enjoy the sports, the games, the fitness and to build a life-long desire to exercise. I know healthy living helps us to flourish.
Recently I was reading information that once again confirmed why it is so important for our kids to be active and to have it as a natural part of life.
“…physical health (regular activity, healthy weight, good nutrition) and core fitness capabilities (coordination, balance, cardio/respiratory fitness, strength and flexibility) are essential areas that all primary school aged kids need to develop. It is better done when they’re still young – before they move up to secondary and have to cope with issues associated with adolescence or greater peer pressure. … Primary school (age 6 – 12) are critical physical and emotional developmental years. Children are starting to develop greater self-responsibility, and it is important that they also understand the importance of looking after themselves. ”
As parents, we need to get out there with our kids and encourage them with activity and their food choices. Kids model their behaviour on those they admire and respect. Although it may not always feel like it, we as parents are the number 1 role-models and we need to ‘practice what we preach’. Maybe try taking a walk, try having family conversations about the food being eaten and why it is healthy or unhealthy.
As time goes on researchers are finding more links between fitness and learning.
“..There is very strong empirical evidence that links fitness with optimum leaning. For example, exercise increases the production of cells in the hippocampus area of the brain, which is also the area responsible for both learning and also memory…
Of most note, fitness does not impact as much on initial leaning, but it has helped retention and memory recall far more significantly. This might explain why fit kids achieve better than obese kids during examinations…
Kids who avoid junk food have more consistent energy and concentration levels during the day.”
Kids who are fit:
* supply their brains with more oxygen, allowing clearer thinking and better concentration levels
* have better core strength, so find sitting at a desk or studying easier
* have been shown to fatigue less, both later in the day and later in the school term
* are more alert, focussed and cognitively more capable, on a consistent basis.
Then, there is the psychological advantages of being fit:
*fitness helps self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as driving self-worth upwards
*fit kids tend to have better self-worth, leading to a better body image
*regular exercise increases positive neuro-chemicals like endorphins, which make kids feel happier and more confident, and also acts as ‘natural’ anit-depressants
I really enjoyed this reminder that as a parent I am in an important position to help my kids, encourage them and role model for them. This information I got from the ASG Scholastic News, and they had sourced some of it from Rob de Castellas program SmartStart for Kids and clinical psychologist Ian Wallace.
Maybe try getting that basketball out and playing with them, try getting the bike out or simply try a quick walk with the kids. I know time is often the issue, but I am trying to think in small amounts of time – it does not have to be a 3 hour walk, just a quick 10 minutes – start small!